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Medication and mental health

National Baking Week

The blog post below was written by Helen. She hopes you find it helpful.

Happy National Baking Week everyone! If you’re a fan of the Great British Bake Off, understand what a “soggy bottom” is and want to know more about how baking can help your wellbeing, then this is the blog for you!

via GIPHY

Let’s start with what even is National Baking Week? You can find some information about it here… sure it’s sponsored by Pyrex and really what they want is for you to buy their products. BUT, it is also a celebration of so much more, the art of home baking, family time, creating something from scratch, and being able to gift your friends with a yummy treat. 

The real push for the day is about the importance of family, especially time together. My dad taught me to cook, but my mum taught me to bake, she would always ask my siblings and I if we wanted to help her when she was getting ready for a bake sale or a birthday. She would let us choose our birthday cakes from her special books, for my 7th birthday I had the most spectacular Snow White cake, alas it was decorated with marzipan which I discovered that day I didn’t like. Any way, the point is in my home baking was something we did as a family, whether it was helping by measuring ingredients or by licking the mixers we'll got stuck in. 

As an adult I still love to bake, I don’t have any kids to bake with at home but I do, occasionally, teach the young people I work with how to make something yummy. I also love to bake for my friends, family and colleagues (around the office my banana bread is legendary). 

Most of the time though I bake for me. I don’t really like cakes, but I love to make them. The smell of something freshly baked is one of the most heart warming smells there is for me. I love the process of looking at a recipe, following instructions, weighing things out, mixing, and waiting. I also love to tweak recipes so that they become my own, or for my gluten free friends or my vegan friends. The whole baking process is really soothing for me. 

When I see the doctor about my mental health they always ask what I do that helps, and for me, baking is always in the top 3. I adore that it makes people happy and that it gives me a boost. But mostly, I find it is really helpful in calming me and helping me stay focused. When it seems like everything is a bit too much, baking helps me put order back in the world, it helps me make sense of things. When I feel lonely or sad it helps me think of all the people I can bless with my baking. Even watching GBBO fills me with joy at seeing other people doing wonderful things with the things that I love. 

Baking might not be for you, but I challenge you to give it a try and see if it helps you on a bad day. Below I’ve included the recipe and the equipment you will need for my banana bread, including additions to make it gluten free and/or vegan  (which I often have to do) - it’s still yummy I promise!

Equipment:
- Hand mixer
- 2lb loaf tin
- Large bowl
- Tablespoon
- Teaspoon

Ingredients:
- 55g baking margarine
- 200g caster sugar
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 egg (if vegan use 4 banana's and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup instead of an egg)
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- 250g self raising flour (gluten free flour requires an extra table spoon of syrup, or if not vegan an extra egg)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat oven to 160
- Honey

Mix the margarine and sugar, then mix in mashed banana's, syrup and the egg (if using). Once nice and gloopy sieve in flower and baking powder and then fold it all in. Put it in a tin then in the oven, after half an hour turn the oven down to 150 and leave in for another half an hour. 

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then prick the top with a fork and drizzle a spoon of honey on! 

Simples.

Now on your marks, get set...

via GIPHY

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World Mental Health Day 2018

In this article, SelfharmUK Web Manager Jess chats to colleagues Jo and Helen about mental health and being a teenager for #WMHD

SHUK: Who are you and what do you do at SelfharmUK? 

J: I am Jo, I run the Alumina programmes most nights of the week. And this is a photo of me when I was a teenager...

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H: My name is Helen and I head up the emotional and mental wellbeing work that we do in Luton, this work feeds into what we do with the website and gives the young people of Luton a voice in what we do. I also deliver training and give lots of talks on mental health. This is a photo of me when I was a teenager...

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SHUK: How has your understanding of the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing changed from when you were a young person?

J: I didn’t have a clue about it as a teenager; I was told it was attention seeking behaviour if you were down, sad or angry. Now, because i have struggled with anxiety and depression at times, I understand that that is so far from the truth. 

H: When I was a teenager and you were struggling with your mental health it was put down as "hormones" or "attention seeking" because of this I didn’t understand that your mental health was something you had to look after and just thought it was something you had to be ashamed of. Now I know it is just as important as looking after my physical health, I go to the doctor for my asthma, which means that I also go to the doctor when I’m struggling with stress or anxiety.

SHUK: What do you think was your hardest life change as a teenager to adapt to? 

H: Being noticed maybe? Every few years my mum would have another baby and so I just spent a lot of time feeling lost and unimportant. Especially as three of my siblings were in school with me and they all had better grades and didn’t get into trouble like me. I felt like an outcast at home and in school and with my friends. 

J: For me it was bereavement. My best friend was killed in a car crash and I lost my much loved grandma all within a month. Loss effects our mental health greatly, I just didn’t realise how much when I was 12. 

SHUK: What do you think is the hardest change for young people to adapt to now a days?

J: I think social media plays a huge part in how we feel about ourselves; how we want to look perfect and look like we are having fun because we believe everyone else is. I know it’s not true as everyone is struggling with their own stuff, also trying to make it look like they are having an awesome time. It is hard to turn away from social media. 

H: I think the change from being a child to an adult, it’s hard to adapt to when you are expected to be an adult and make adult decisions (such as choices about your future) but at the same time being treated like a child and still dealing with the physical changes of becoming and adult.

SHUK: When you were having a bad mental wellbeing day at School, what did you do? Was there someone you could tell? What did they say? Did you tell your friends? Did they understand?

J: I struggled to talk about my feelings when i was a teenager as my family didn’t encourage us too so , I didn’t tell anyone until I was in my late teens about how hard i had found certain things. I regret that now, which is why I do my job: I know the value of someone listening to you. 

H: I didn’t really have anyone to talk to. I would yell at people or walk out of lessons or get in fights. When I expressed how much I was struggling to a few of my friends they would call me a "psycho" and would walk away from me until I was “normal” again. I just felt ashamed. 

SHUK: What advice would you give to young people struggling with any aspect of their mental wellbeing?

J: Find help - whether that’s through a friend, parent, counsellor, online safe place (ChildlineThe Mix or Young Minds) - and begin to explore why you feel like you do. Don’t stay silent, there’s people who want to help. 

H: Ask for help, people are much more understanding now, it’s not something to be ashamed of and there are loads of different places you can get help from, online, in person, over the phone and more (as Jo has mentioned above). Also find healthy ways of expressing how you feel, art, music, baking, writing, working with animals. Mostly be kind to yourself. 

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Latest Blog

National Baking Week

Happy National Baking Week everyone! If you’re a fan of the Great British Bake Off, understand what a “soggy bottom” is and want to know more about how baking can help your wellbeing, then this is the blog for you!

Read More